June 1966-June 1967
Cambodia, Phouc Vinh
May 1970-April 1971
1st Cavalry Division
U.S Army (Terry, pg. 219)
Documentarian Pierre Schoendorffer served as a combat soldier in Vietnam in the 1950s during France's quagmire. In the fall of 1966, he returned with a cameraman and spent six weeks with an American infantry platoon.
This film, won a 1968 Best Foreign Documentary Oscar, is stark and riveting.
Commanded by a West Point graduate, Lieutenant Joseph B. Anderson, Jr. the 33-man platoon Schoendorffer traveled with was a cross-section of America (multi-racial). Perhaps, as the film was shot relatively early in the war, the soldiers still seem motivated and even naive, though it seems to be dawning on everyone that their task may well be hopeless.
Exhausting patrols to hunt the Viet Cong turn up nothing but deserted camps, and at one point when the platoon is taking heavy gunfire, you can hear an American yelling that he can't tell where the shooting is coming from. Schoendorffer refrains from making any political statements and offers only the most minimal narration to the black-and-white footage, none of which appears to have been staged for the camera. When the body of a young soldier killed in an ambush is loaded aboard a helicopter, the pain of the scene is palpable. At one point the platoon is shown getting a detailed briefing on a mission, only to have the plans abruptly change and the helicopters drop them into a battle where they have virtually no idea what their role is supposed to be. The Anderson Platoon doesn't tell you, it shows you, and this remarkable film resonates deeply. --Robert J. McNamara
Peace be upon you
Bloods- An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry, Ballantine Books, New York 1985